Texas drought reveals 113-million-year-old dinosaur tracks

Texas' prolonged drought heats limestone riverbeds to 126°F, unveiling the most dinosaur tracks ever found in this location.
Sade Agard
110-million-year-old dinosaur tracks discovered at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas.
110-million-year-old dinosaur tracks discovered at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas.

Paul Baker/ Dinosaur Valley State Park 

The searing heat waves scorching Texas may have an unexpected silver lining. Severe state drought conditions revealed about 70 new dinosaur tracks, as per Dinosaur Valley State Park's recent Facebook post, where the tracks were found.

These ancient imprints, concealed beneath layers of water and mud in the Paluxy River, are estimated to date back to around 110 million years ago.

Acrocanthosaurus and Sauropodseiden dinosaurs

"It's been a long week at the Ball Room track site. The limestone in the riverbed got up to 126 degrees at times. This will be the most tracks we have ever seen at this location," wrote the state park in a Facebook post.

Paul Baker, the retail manager at Dinosaur Valley State Park, expressed astonishment at the sheer number of tracks discovered, stating to CNN:

"I've never seen this many dinosaur tracks before. It's exciting to see something that nobody else has seen; it's almost like a treasure hunt, in a way."

Most of these newly revealed tracks are believed to belong to an Acrocanthosaurus, a towering dinosaur standing at 15 feet and weighing nearly seven tons. 

Texas drought reveals 113-million-year-old dinosaur tracks
Reconstruction of Acrocanthosaurus engaged in courtship activity (not related to this discovery).

Alongside these are tracks resembling those of a Sauropodseiden, often referred to as a Paluxysaurus, a giant that reached a towering 60 feet and weighed an astonishing 44 tons.

While the ongoing drought has presented this extraordinary opportunity to unearth these prehistoric relics, Baker cautioned that this rare sight won't last forever. 

"Once we receive a decent rain, most of the tracks will be covered up again," he explained.

Dinosaur Valley State Park, located an hour and a half south of Dallas, has long been a sanctuary for dinosaur enthusiasts and tourists. It houses numerous dinosaur tracks imprinted by sauropods and theropods that once roamed the region some 113 million years ago. 

Extreme weather in Texas

This area attracts visitors who come for fishing, swimming, and kayaking in the now-dry Paluxy River, which has lately experienced a significant drop in water levels.

The prolonged drought in Texas, which began in June, has expanded to engulf over a third of the state, according to the US Drought Monitor.

In the region where the newfound dinosaur tracks have been discovered, temperatures have soared to a scorching 128 degrees Fahrenheit at times, exacerbating the already arid conditions.

Having grown up there, Paul Baker, who has deep roots in Dinosaur Valley State Park, acknowledges the awe-inspiring aspect of unearthing dinosaur tracks. 

That said, he doesn't dismiss the ongoing drought and record-high temperatures, recognizing it as a "give-and-take" situation.

Reflecting on the vanished Paluxy River, he said, "It's neat to see the tracks like this, but I do miss the river. The Paluxy River is normally a beautiful, beautiful river."

The discovery of these dinosaur tracks amid the challenging climate conditions serves as a poignant reminder of the complex relationship between nature's wonders and the environmental challenges we face today. 

While we marvel at these ancient imprints, the ongoing drought underscores the importance of preserving our natural resources for future generations.

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